Their health and welfare suffered while the soldiers were encamped around Harpers Ferry, and many Citizens also suffered the hardships of war. Artist James Taylor, sent by Frank Leslie to cover the Shenandoah campaign, observed the dire Situation of one of Harpers Ferry's towns-people. Staying at Mrs. Stipes' boardinghouse in Lower Town, he explained, "Mrs. Stipes´ catered to sojourners at the Ferry to the extent of table board and lodging, not frum choice but necessity caused by her husband's business reverses owing to the War, and his inability to catch on again, when it fell to the lot of Madam to entertain transients to keep the wolf from the door' (Taylor 1989). Most of the Harpers Ferry's archaeological materials from the Civil War era date from the town's revitalization era (1864/65), when Sheridan staged his Shenandoah campaign. One example comes from Mrs. Stipes' yard, behind the boardinghouse she operated starting in October 1862.
Taylor does not mention specific foods served to him at Mrs. Stipes' boardinghouse, but he may have eaten foods similar to those found in other boardinghouses in Harpers Ferry. Charles Moulton, who lived in another Lower Town boardinghouse noted that his meals consisted of roasts or stews. He wrote "I always find my meals looking hot just from the pot or oven" (Moulton in Drickamer and Drickamer 1987:188).
There are some clues that Mrs. Stipes may not have exclusively relied on the local markets to supply her boarders´ needs (Table 1). For instance, turtle shell is present in the backyard trash deposits, Turtles are common in the area along the riverine environment and their appearance in the archaeological record suggests that Mrs. Stipes used them for her boardinghouse soups (Burk 1993). The presence of Eastern Cottontail remains also suggests that she used other wild foods to supplement her family´s or her tenant's diets (Burk 1993).
A variety of domestic birds are part of the faunal assemblage and include goose, domestic goose, turkey, and chicken (Burk 1993). Both the goose and the turkey assemblages are small. These foods are not average boardinghouse fare and may represent the remains of a holiday meal. Moulton wrote of a holiday dinner he consumed at a Harpers Ferry boardinghouse. The meal, considered a great treat, consisted of a turkey dinner "at the expense of our kind landlady" (Drickamer and Drickamer 1987). There is a good likelihood that the Stipes purchased the goose and the turkey at the market, because the assemblages are small and incomplete. If the poultry had been raised in the backyard they would have been butchered there, and a larger and more complete assemblage would be present, like the chicken assemblage. The possibility also exists that Mrs. Stipes' husband hunted these birds to supplement meals and stretch the income from the boarders (Burk 1993).
Chicken represents the largeat assemblage of bird bones, and most parts of the chicken are present. Of the 93 chicken bones are present, two-thirds of these are from a nearly articulated chicken. Chickens are valuable for yielding a daily supply of eggs, and when they no longer produced they would have been butchered (Burk 1993). The skull and mandible would have been discarded at the time of butchering, and the rest of the bird, served at dinner, would have been part of the dinner trash discarded in the yard.
Domesticated mammals, such as pig, cow, und sheep or goat make up most of the boardinghouse deposits, representing 49% of the biomass of the entire assemblage. Cow (36%) was far greater than the other mammals, and pig constitutes the second largest biomass percentage (11%). Sheep or goat biomass is small (2%) at this site (Burk 1993). The presence of teeth and skull element´s from pig, cow, and sheep suggests the possible consumption of calfs head soups. A search through contemporary cookbooks suggests that these meals were common (Hall 1855; Tyree 1879).
Twice as many pig bones (25%) have cleaver and/or axe butchering marks than do the cow bones (13%). This trend generally holds true for the large (7%) and medium (20%) mammals in the assemblage. The greater use of an ax or cleaver on the medium mammals points to home or local processing. This type uf processing indicates the boardinghouse keeper's reliance on local markets, rather than solely on mass-butchered meats from eastern markets. The only documentation that exists - letters from soldiers and James Taylor - shows that townspeople did rely upon local markets for their food (Burk 1993).
The Federals regulated a daily outdoor market in town on the banks
of the Shenandoah River. Farmers and merchants were penned into a roped-off area surrounded by guards. Farmers could trade irrespectively of their political sentiment if they did not discuss their views. Villagers, such as Mrs. Stipes, conducted their transactions with the Farmers over the rope barriers. The guards, with loaded weapons, were ordered to prevent, "at all hazards, surreptitious Communications passing between the disloyal residents and secret emissaries of the Confederacy in the guise of hucksters, and to guard against spies slipping through the bound" (Taylor 1989). Food seemed plentiful for the towns people and the army mess caterers. Taylor noted that some of the market goods available to Mrs. Stipes included butter, head cheese, eggs, poultry, beef, bacon, lamb, ham, spare ribs, new potatoes, and blackberries (Taylor 1989). Horace Ball, of the 34th Massachusetts Regiment, also noted the sale of cake, bread, pies, and apples in the market
While most of the historical documentation suggests that Mrs. Stipes acquired her meats at the market, it is surprising that the overwhelming majority of the archaeologically recovered cow bones (86%) have saw marks (Burk 1993). Since the Civil War stimulated mass production and industrialization, animals, too, were mass butchered and processed to supply large armies. The mechanical saw facilitated mass butchering at a central processing point The products were then transported to Harpers Ferry. The presence of sawed cuts of meat in the boardinghouse assemblage suggests that Mrs. Stipes bartered for these foods with the army's commissary, since townspeople typically relied on local markets at this time.
Trash found in backyard deposits associated with Mrs. Stipes´ boardinghouse is also indicative of boarders' foodways. These materials include peanut shells, walnut shells, cherry pits, peach pits, pumpkin seeds, watermelon seeds, egg shells, clam shells, and a large abundance of oyster shells. Other foods identified through pollen analyses include: fig, tomatillo/ground cherry, and raspberry (Cummings 1993). Archaeobotanical samples from the yard contain weeds auch as pigweed, goosefoot, nutgrass, carpetweed, purslane, chickweed, wiregrass, tomatillo/ground cherry, and buffalo bur (Cummings 1993/94; Rovner 1993/94). The backyards were strewn with litter and kitchen refuse, and health conditions were probably deplorable. Rodents infiltrated the area and gnawed at bones from the boardinghouse kitchen wstes. Unsanitary conditions prevailed during the military occupation.
The boardinghouse ceramic assemblage consists of a variety of wares and types. One of the largest assemblages includes American grey saltglazed stoneware jars used for food storage. Tin cans and glass jars are also part of this food storage assemblage. The tin cans are additional evidence of the development of massive food processing and storage developed during the Civil War. Their presence demonstrates that the boardinghouse keeper obtained goods from larger regional markets, maybe from bartering with the commissary.
Food service china included a variety of platters. Matched place settings are almost nonexistent and the ceramic assemblage includea a mix of itema that includes ironstones and edge-decorated whitewares, undeco rated whitewares, and a large variety of transfer printed whiteware. The assemblage also includes one transfer-printed tea cup and an undecorated saucer (Shackel, 1993). This eclectic assemblage may have been a product of purchaaing goods when needed, regardless of style, to have the necessary tableware to accommodate boarders. The large variety of dinner wares suggests Mrs. Stipes did not maintain the kind of high-style boardinghouse that many Washington correspondents preferred. After all, Taylor mockingly nicknamed the establishment "Hotel de Stipes."
Martial law forbade the sale and consumption of alcohol in town, and the provost marshal enforced "orders involving the sale of intoxicating liquors whether by tradesmen or sutlers" (Moore 1962). The military sometimes raided households thought to be bootlegging liquor. Those found with liquor in their houses, or caught selling liquor within the boundaries of Harpers Ferry, were forcefully removed to outside the military district (Moulton in Drickamer and Drickamer 1987; Lincoln 1879). Apparently, the provost marshal had limited control in Harpers Ferry. Materials from the archaeological record behind Mrs. Stipes' boardinghouse reveal an abundance of wine or Champagne bottles even though her establishment was next to the provost marshal's headquarters. Alcohol abuse was sometimes reported in personal letters frorn soldiers stationed in Harpers Ferry. For instance, Robert Gould Shaw wrote that when he and his Company were stationed on Maryland Heights they were occasionally assigned to guard the "ferry." However, it was an unruly Situation and Shaw saw the need to bring some order to the Union troops. Shaw (Duncan 1992) remarked:
While there, the Fifth Connecticut came in, and a great many of the men wandered off and got drunk. Some of their officers were really not ashamed to ask me to send their own men to their quarters, and to lock the unruly ones up in our guard-house! In fact, before long, the whole management of the regiment seemed to devolve upon us, and one of our sergeants broke his knuckles knocking men down ...
Medicine bottles are also present in the boardinghouse assemblage. While patent medicines were sometimes consumed for their alcohol content (Bond 1989), it is also important to note that they were also consumed for their medicinal use (Larsen 1993). It is likely that the high incidence of disease and the pain and suffering induced by war
contributed to the consumption of proprietary medicines and home remedies.
Sickness prevailed in occupied Harpers Ferry. For instance, Chaplain John H. Strickland of the 145th Pennsylvania described Harpers Ferry's water and food as being contaminated with "living creatures... pork alive with skippers" (Hearn 1996). Soldiers in the town were afflicted with diarrhea, dysentery, rheumatism, measles, and colds, and continually came to the chaplain looking for a discharge (Hearn 1996). Since medical facilities may not have been readily available to soldiers with minor maladies, soldiers depended upon themselves for self-medication.
While soldiers occupied the town, domestic activities of Citizens went on around them. For instance, domestic artifacts found include doll parts, hair pins, and nonmilitary buttons. They were found next to military artifacts such as a knapsack buckle, a .22 caliber cartridge case, musket ball, percussion cap, and minie balls ranging from .42, .54, and .57 caliber. There are items associated with clothing production present in the archaeological assemblage: 27 straight pins, one safety pin, and one brass thimble. These items are often considered a part of a domestic assemblage, but they may well have belonged to soldiers. Soldiers were issued a "house wife," a sewing kit for mending their garments. It became an especially important kit because issued clothing was sometimes of poor quality and needed constant repair (Wiley 1971; Stern 1961; Beverly 1992).
The presence of some domestic items, such as pins, nonmilitary buttons, porcelain doli fragmcnts, and a hair pin, along with the various military related items, shows huw closely domestic life and military life coexisted in this military occupied town. The boardinghouse keeper's house-hold made significant contributions to the archaeological assemblage since civilians of all ages commingled in the same areas as soldiers.
Source: Public History in a National Park, Paul A. Shackel, Springer-Verlag Gmbh; Auflage: 1 (November 2000)